notes from JK

Planning updates: Mitre House + the old Royal Alex

For those Brighton residents interested in the redevelopment plans for Mitre House and the old Royal Alexandrea hospital sites, read on…

Mitre House

An application (ref BH2010/01966) to convert part of the building from (disused) offices into a budget hotel was pulled from a planning committee agenda at the last minute. Officers had recommended refusal due to the lack of any transport plans in the proposal. However at the eleventh hour some transport studies appeared from the applicant. Officers are now studying these in details – to my untrained eye the applicant is claiming that the change from office to hotel will result in a significant reduction in journeys to the area, which I find very hard to believe. Transport isn’t the only issue with this application so I hope these late reports won’t distract from the wider impacts a hotel could have on this community. We’ll probably see a revised officer report come to committee in November. Until then officers are still receiving objections, if residents wish to submit them.

Meanwhile a new application (ref BH2010/03122) has just been lodged by the owners. This is to extend the southern block of Mitre House by at least a storey to create more flats. This will probably cause more shading for some households. I’ve not yet viewed the detailed plans as they’ve only just been lodged.

Planning application online lookup.
(I cannot link directly to applications online due to an irritating legal disclaimer you need to agree on the planning register. It is a goal of mine to get this pointless click licence removed!)

The old Royal Alexandra Hospital

Applications to demolish all the buildings on this site, including the landmark main Lainson building, have been refused several times by the planning committee – and upheld by the planning inspector. Taylor Wimpey, who own the site, are now trying again.

Strangely they are planning to double their costs by lodging two applications. One is another completely new build proposal slightly tweaked from the previous ones that have been refused. It meets the 40% affordable housing requirement in council policy, has a doctors surgery and so on. However none of the old buildings remain, despite residents, councillors and officers all clearly stating a preference for at least some buildings being retained.

The second application retains the main Lainson building and replaces all the others with new build blocks virtually identical to those in the demolition proposal. There is no doctors surgery in this and initially no affordable housing was mentioned. However after some strong words about this approach, including this letter from Sven and I, Taylor Wimpey are now floating figures of 12-13% affordable housing being possible in this scheme. This is an improvement, but still a very long way from the 40-50% we need to see in developments for this city.

With both applications there remain issues with the quality of the design for the new build plus shading and overlooking for existing residents on all sides of the site.

I don’t think the all new (demolition) proposals have any chance of being approved. Taylor Wimpey should focus on improving the conversion application. They’re never going to please everyone, but there’s much more latitude for meeting the majority of the community’s needs with a good conversion scheme than anything else.

I’m told we’re weeks away from Taylor Wimpey formally submitting something, so let’s see how they play it.

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